Supermoto (also called Supermotard due to its strong foothold in France) is a cross over of motocross and road racing. A big (typically 400cc to 700 cc) motocross or enduro bike with spoked road race wheels on slick tyres is ridden on a circuit approximately 70% tarmac and 30% dirt. Commonly held on road racing tracks with the off road section in the infield. Riders wear road race leathers (as opposed to off road clothes). Unlike normal motorcycle racing, the emphasis lies on slower (<100mph), short and twisty tracks, where skill matters far more than outright machine performance.
Supermoto has its origins in the USA, where the ABC TV-network commissioned a racing series Superbikers to find the ultimate all-round motorcycle racer, back in 1979. It tried to draw on talent from the off-road, flat-track and road-racing world. The series ran until 1985; its ending also ended the sport in the USA. The French picked it up however and it quickly gained popularity there and in other parts of Europe.
Until the 1990's, supermotos were converted motocross (MX) bikes or enduro bikes. In 1991 Italian manufacturer Gilera released the 'Nordwest' model, the first factory produced supermoto.
Other European manufactures followed suit quickly, among them KTM, Husqvarna, Husaberg AB and CCM; all manufacturers that emphasised off-road models at the time. Models were developed for both track and road use. It took another 10 years, until the mid 2000's for Japanese manufacturers, such as Yamaha (2004), Honda (2005) and Suzuki (2005) to start introducing supermoto models in the european market, emphasising more domesticated models for road use rather than outright racing.
Around the same time (2003), the sport was resurrected in the USA with the birth of AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) Supermoto championship.